Airman in hunt for pal’s family from Sheffield

James Douglas Hancock (Jimmie)
James Douglas Hancock (Jimmie)
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A former Wing Commander in the Royal Air Force is searching for the family of a close wartime pal from Sheffield.

John Deverill became great friends with James Douglas Hancock, known as Jimmie, in 1942.

The pair were both captains of Wellington aircraft and often flew together.

John, who now lives in Hampshire, said: “In 1941 I was a pilot in the RAF and learned to fly Wellington aircraft, then joining 221 Squadron.

“During the later stages of my training and for most of 1942 a close friend was Jimmie, from Sheffield.

“We were both captains of Wellington aircraft, often flew together on operations over the Mediterranean and finished our first operational tours – 50 ops – at the same time.

“Jimmie and I shared a tent in the Egyptian desert for many months.

“On tour expiry, we returned to the UK on a trooper from Suez, in charge of Italian and German prisoners of war.”

John and Jimmie’s ways parted in 1943, when Jimmie married Joyce Rita May, of Sheffield, and John returned to his squadron in Italy.

John said: “Jimmie married Joyce, but was killed a year later when his aircraft exploded on take-off from Leuchars in Scotland.

“He and his crew were killed except for two in the tail of the aircraft, who were killed in a later accident.”

John, who believes Jimmie is buried at Christ Church, Fulwood, is now seeking any of Jimmie’s relations or friends to share stories and photographs.

He said: “I would not like to think that Jimmie has been forgotten.”

n John can be reached at